Recognition: This word means many things. Act of recognizing, appreciation, acknowledgment, permission to speak, and so on. As an author I seek this often. But, as an author, it is one of the most elusive things in my life. Those in any entertainment industry, and yes writing a novel is part of that, fight for recognition. Often we seek it from the top; from companies that will make you rich, from media that will make you known, from others in your field who can help you feel accepted. But, I believe that the most important recognition we can receive is from you, the audience. As an actor, it is those sitting in the seats of the theater. As a singer, it is those who listen and even wish to repeat your work. As an author, it is the reader.
Okay, now the problem begins when the entertainer becomes an attention hog. They don’t care what low they sink to, so long as someone is giving them attention. That is not a place you want to be. And, unfortunately, the world often looks at everyone in the entertainment industry the same, they see one Lady Gaga, and then every pop singer is the same.
I am an attention hound, not quite a hog yet and I pray that I never stoop to that level. I am a ham, I love to be on stage, I love to entertain. I love to know that what I created is making someone happy. This is where I see the difference between those that will do anything for recognition, and those who love to entertain. I don’t write for money, or to raise eyebrows, or to turn heads. I write because I want to make someone smile, cry, feel warm, feel hungry. I want to evoke the imagination and take a reader to a place they never believed possible. I want to know that they rooted for the hero, cursed the villain, smelled the food, felt the cool breezes. Whatever brightens your day, I hope to help you get in the pages.
Of course I want money; I will not deny that I need that stuff to survive. To say that I am not in it for the money would be partly untrue. I would write even if I knew that not another penny would be made. But, making a few doesn’t hurt.
Garnering recognition is hard. When there are thousands of people out there that want this, but few that give it, it is an uphill battle. The media loves a controversial or inspirational history to the author, so that he/she is more of the news story than the book they wrote. So, unless you have one of those two, you are already stepping a place back in the line of recognition. Next, the world wants a lot of the same. There are publishing houses that will give you the story with blanks for the names of people/places/things that you fill in. In half an hour you can get a novel out and it will sell. If you want to write from your imagination, take another few steps back in that line. Then comes the paradox, big time publishers only want to read your manuscript so long as you have already been published by a notable publisher. Okay, that makes about as much sense as telling a doctor to give you medicine for something you have already been cured of. But, it has been and always will be that way, if you are not published, take another giant step back in that line. At this point, your hope is fading, your money is draining, and your expectations are limited. All you have left is that drive, and sometimes that is not enough.
How can you, the reader, help? Comment. If you like a book, go to the websites where it is sold and write an honest comment about it so that other readers considering buying it might actually give your opinion some thought. Hit that ‘like’ button on the page for it. Send an encouraging letter to the author. Some people believe that the only reviews that are published are critical and must contain at least two negative points. But, that isn’t true. When you finish a good dinner, you don’t sit back and think only about that one overly salty bite. Let others know that it is a decent book. If you have a friend/relative that is an author, read his/her stuff and give him the helping hand of a comment. You don’t have to be Mark Twain to write it either, just write from the heart and let the world decide.
In the end, the readers approval is more valuable and encouraging than all of the media reviews combined. I don’t write to get my book mentioned on Jeopardy, CNN, Fox, TMZ, or even the local news. I write to give you, the reader, something to sink you teeth into and, hopefully, enjoy for a little while.